With winter coming up, plenty of families will be looking for cost efficient ways to stay warm during the colder months. Common practices include turning up the heat in a central heating system, lighting a fire in the fireplace, turning on radiators in older buildings, or using portable space heaters to warm up those drafty rooms.
It’s a nice treat to sit with your family by the fireplace for some cozy warmth during the harsh winter months. It’s hard to resist the comfort of a fire in your living room, but it is important to remain vigilant of the dangers it can present. Enjoying the pleasant heat from your fireplace often distracts from one very important thing: there is an active fire in your living room. CSIA reported an average of about 22,000 structure fires a year that involved fireplaces. This correlated to approximately 111.7 million dollars worth of damage. Stay safe around the fireplace this winter by:
- Always use fireplace tools to prevent personal injury
- Never use fuel to light a fire
- Always use a screen around the fireplace
- Make sure the fire is out before leaving the house or going to sleep
CPSC has a full list of fireplace tips here.
Radiators are very common in older architecture. Most often, they rely on steam going through a system of pipes to spread heat through the room. A commonly circulated thought is that keeping things too close to the radiator will cause a fire. Despite a lack of strong evidence linking these radiators to fire danger, it is best to keep flammable objects away from them. Radiators, and the pipes connected to them also tend to get very hot. Avoid touching them with bare skin to prevent burns.
Central heating is common in most homes. It is not at present significantly linked to any sort of fire danger, however, caution is always the better option. Be sure that any and all heating equipment is handled by a professional, and also that you follow your municipality’s safety codes and regulations.
Portable Space Heaters
Portable space heaters are cheap, effective and easy to use. They are commonly placed in homes in areas that the central heating doesn’t quite cover, such as attics or drafty rooms. A good majority of them are electric powered and provide a great deal of heat, but they are also involved in 79 percent of house fire deaths. According to a 2010 NFPA study, heating equipment related fires have been responsible for 608 million dollars of damage. Just last year a space heater related fire claimed the lives of nine people. Although using a space heater creates a large amount of heat in a small amount of time, they can be very dangerous. Be sure to keep these tips in mind if you decide to use one:
- Always turn the heater off when leaving a room or going to sleep
- Keep at least three feet of space around the heater
- Never use an extension cord
- Always check wiring and plugs to prevent electrical fire
Many times, the nature of the product’s design is at fault for causing a fire. Be sure to regularly scan the news for recalls before activating your space heater.
This year, stay warm, and more importantly, stay safe.